Starting an online shop, part 7: networking, social media & marketing
Something I have learnt and continue to do so, is the value of networking, social media and marketing . I honestly think that without it there would be no business. I certainly wouldn't be writing this blog series, that's for sure.
But is it really all about networking, tweeting and marketing? Well, I for one immediately see the difference in my sales and stats when I tweet my latest design range BUT it will only turn into a sale etc if I have got those other crucial factors right. But what are those crucial factors? Well, everything I've been focusing on in this series: research, practice, organisation, prices, photography and presentation. They all work together very closely. Without one, they would all crumble.
For example, you tweet a pic of your latest design and the photo isn't up to scratch or the price is questionable (too cheap, too expensive), then no one's going to purchase it, let alone follow the link through to your online shop. It's quite simple when you put it like that but getting all those factors to play ball can be hard work, which is why it's key to allocate time to each one and practice, practice, practice! You'll soon find that once you've got on top of your prices, have learnt how to take a great photo and have your beautiful packaging ready, then you've done all the hard work, so marketing is simply the next piece in the puzzle.
Right, so lets talk marketing with social media first. There's a whole host of free social media tools you can use to market your products with and network too, such as:
A few pointers on these:
- Don't bombard your fans with marketing, shop talk etc. Stagger your updates. Not only is this kind on everyone's patience levels but it helps build a steady flow of traffic to your shop.
- Remember to use hashtags where you can. They work like SEO terms, helping people find your products.
- Share the love! Support your fellow makers, designs, bloggers, people you admire by sharing, retweeting, favouriting their latest design, commenting on blog posts, etc.
- Play nicely and be professional. In my personal opinion, I think it's A-ok to tweet a pic of some tasty cake you're tucking into, or even saying that you're struggling with inspiration at the moment but it's not ok to be putting people down or jumping on the bandwagon and slating someone you don't know. Not only is it not nice but it's unprofessional and doesn't do your business any good.
There are so many free apps and devices out there to help market and network with that I've probably only skimmed the surface. Do post below anything else you feel is crucial for this list or any thoughts you may have.
As well as marketing through social media, you can also market your products and business by:
- Asking your fellow bloggers to review your products on their blog.
- Running a giveaway competition.
- Advertising your products in magazines.
- Sending a brochure (and your business card!) of your beautifully photographed products with all your orders.
- Getting your shop button/link included on a popular blog by sponsoring.
- Start an online newsletter and include pics of your latest products, maybe even a great offer for your readers only!
- Going to networking events and getting those business cards circulating!
Marketing is such a HUGE topic, so this is by no means the be all and end all but it should hopefully get you thinking like a pro and remembering that marketing is crucial to your business!
Now on to networking! What is it? How? Why?
Well, it's exactly what it says on the tin! Get to know the people and groups in your field and work with them.
How? Easy! Join in on hashtag conversations on twitter; join and contribute to Etsy teams; share your fellow business pals' work/shops updates/competitions; go to networking events; start a group e.g. a crafting blog group; and so on!
By meeting and working with the people in your field, you will instantly help each other's business and the best bit, you will make new friends!
I hope you've found this useful. Next month (2014, eek!), I'll be sharing the final in this series - dealing with feedback and learning to be thick skinned when you get knocked!
Until then, happy networking!